Toronto FC-FC Dallas Preview
In last place in the Western Conference and mired in a franchise-worst 11-match winless streak, FC Dallas is in need of some help.
Assistance may be on its way with the possible return of midfielder David Ferreira before Dallas faces a team it has dominated.
Ferreira, who has been sidelined for more than a year with a broken ankle, could return to the pitch as Dallas hosts last-place Toronto FC on Wednesday night.
FC Dallas (3-9-5) has tumbled down the standings after a 3-2-1 start. The club set a franchise record for consecutive games without a win after a scoreless draw against Chivas USA on June 23 dropped it to 0-7-4 in its last 11.
Kevin Hartman, who is in line to become the first MLS player to make 400 appearances in this match, made one save for his second shutout this season and first since April 5. It was the fourth time FC Dallas failed to score in a match and 10th time they were held to one or no goals during their winless streak.
While it's been a difficult two months for Dallas, it could be in good position to end the winless stretch Wednesday. The club is optimistic Ferreira, the 2010 MLS MVP, could return for his first league game since breaking his ankle in Vancouver on April 23, 2011.
Ferreira helped lead Dallas to the MLS Cup finals in 2010 with 10 goals and 16 assists that year. He had three goals in six matches in 2011 before being injured.
"More than anything, I'm just happy for him to hopefully get his opportunity to get back on the field," teammate Daniel Hernandez told Dallas' official website. "I know it's been a rough 15 months for him."
Besides the potential return of Ferreira, Dallas could also be helped by facing a team it has dominated. After losing the first meeting in 2007, Dallas has won three straight and gone unbeaten in nine matches (6-0-3) against Toronto. FC Dallas is 4-0-1 at home against Toronto (2-10-3), which has the fewest points in the MLS.
Ferreira has three assists in four games versus Toronto.
Toronto opened the season with an MLS-record nine straight losses, but has taken points in five of six matches. It is coming off a 1-all draw against New York last Saturday, with Danny Koevermans scoring the tying goal in the sixth minute.
"I think what you can recognize a little bit is that it's not beautiful flowing football, but we are a little harder to beat than we have been in the past," said coach Paul Mariner, who took over from Aron Winter on June 7.
Toronto is 1-1-3 since Mariner took over, outscoring opponents 9-8 after being outscored 21-8 under Winter.
Midfielder Eric Avila will face his former team for the first time since a midseason trade to Toronto last year. In 12 games this season, he has one goal and one assist.
Toronto, which won 3-0 at Montreal on June 27 for its first road win this season, has never won consecutive league road matches since joining the MLS in 2007.